To mark Advent and celebrate success in the world of internal communication, I’m highlighting a story a day by internal communicators via my blog in a countdown to Christmas.

Every day until 24 December I am sharing the thoughts of IC pros who have written guest articles, with the final one going live on Christmas Eve.

I’ll then be taking a break and be back in January. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my blog this year, it’s always good to feature new voices and a variety of writers and highlight what’s working well – and what there is to learn from situations that don’t go quite as planned.

Today is day 10 and this article is by Euan Semple, @euan and features his excellent book Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do: A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web. It was originally published on my blog in February this year just after the HMV tweets story .

Organisations don’t Tweet, people do

Euan SempleThe story of #hmvXFactorFiring is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that an organisation has been caught out by the power of social media. What happened to HMV could happen to anyone.

When you ask a member of staff, often someone junior in status if not in years, to tweet on behalf of your whole organisation, you are effectively handing them a loaded gun. In extreme circumstances they will turn it on you.

But as with most high profile social media incidents the issue isn’t with the social tools, they are the symptom not the cause. The issue is always deeper and more interesting. Given the amount of change HMV are going through at the moment their challenges as a management team must be considerable.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t do what they have to do in such a way as to take staff with them. No matter how difficult the situation, if you have managed staff well, been honest with them, kept them informed, and dealt with them with integrity, then they will know you are doing what has to be done and understand that.

This has always been the case but the web will hold you to a higher standard.

Yes an individual who lets rip on the web may be unreasonable, yes they may be acting hastily, yes they may not be thinking of the full consequences of their actions – both for you and for them – but we will decide that. If you understand this connected world, have embraced it, used it inside your organisation as well as outside, you will be able to work out quickly what is happening and then respond appropriately and honestly.

We will see this – and make our own judgements. If you have done the right thing we will applaud you. Try to shut things down and keep the lid on bad news…

Post author: Euan Semple

You can read more on this topic in his book: Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do: A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web

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